Not What You Think

Sometimes I meet people & they’re not who I thought they were. We tend to see or hear people & then create these expectations or stereotypes that are often, almost always, inaccurate. So I’m hoping to learn not to frame people in constrictive expectations nor suffocating stereotypes.
In the same way, let’s be aware that we might also make this mistake with God. It’s been my experience that just when I thought I had God all figured out, something happens that totally obliterates my nice & tidy theology / mindset. Rather than living in a predictable & safe human controlled relationship w God, let go of the reins & let God do more & far beyond what you expect!

When You Fall

I hate to fall but moreso I hate the possible injuries that come from falling. We can all remember those times as kids when we scrapped up our hands & knees from falling. And as adults, it’s even less fun to fall.
Where – But falling happens. We fall physically & maybe injure our wrists. We also fall in other ways – like having a mishap / fall in a hostile interaction with a co-worker. Or maybe we fall from an emotional struggle & go back to some bad habits. We can fall when there’s an area of pride, possibly our work performance, achievements, intelligence, beauty, etc.
Why – We fall because we aren’t paying attention to where we’re going. We fall because we didn’t see an obstacle. We fall because we might be in pride. We fall because we’re going faster than our abilities allow.
Help – So when we fall, what are some do’s & dont’s?

  • Do clean out any wounds to prevent infection – don’t tolerate unforgiveness
  • Do get up & keep going – don’t quit
  • Do learn the lessons that come from falling – don’t repeat the exact same fall or mistake
  • Do keep trying – don’t find excuses for getting rigid & moribund
  • Do lean into the Holy Spirit to teach you how to walk together & prevent some mishaps & falls 🙂

Try Something New

“A rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.”

I’ve heard this saying more than once & I like it. It’s helpful to try new things because we humans can gravitate to what’s familiar & comfortable, at the expense of adventures, obeying God & new joys!
There are lots of Bible examples of people who tried new things & I’m listing a few below. As you consider these examples, take a minute to think about what might have happened, if they hadn’t tried something new:

  • Peter – tried fishing in the morning at Jesus command, despite an entire night of fruitless fishing
  • Moses – checking out the burning hush was a novelty to be sure
  • David- killing a giant was something new
    Esther – initiating a conversation with the king was both new & highly risky
  • Ananais – laying hands on & praying for blind Saul was something new for Ananais.

These people took risks & tried new things because they obeyed God, even when it was uncomfortable, illogical, inconvenient & uncertain. Let’s be willing to try new things, at God’s leading!

Proof, Puff or Poof!

I think we all have friends that fit into one of these categories. The “poof friends” seem to vanish when there’s work, adversity or discomfort. When everything is smoothy groovy, these poof friends are easily found, but they go “poof” when things get shaky. The “puff friends” are the ones that talk a lot, but lack substance, don’t follow through & neglect to keep their word. They huff & puff, but there’s little, of anything tangible to their puff.
The best friends are the proof friends. These are the ones who prove, with regularity, that they’re in the trenches with you, even in the muck & they don’t evaporate.
We all have people in our lives who are poof, puff & proof friends. But the real issue is what kind of friend are you? When I was growing up, the friend advice my parents always gave me was to be the kind of friend whom I wanted. So let’s endeavor to be the proof friend & not the puff. Or poof friend 🙂
And let’s keep Proverbs 18:24 front & center in our thinking: “There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”

Get After It!!

Over the last several weeks, I’ve been purposely working out to improve my fitness, mental clarity & stamina. It’s been nice this go around for lots of reasons & I’ve experienced some wonderful spiritual lessons:

  • Beginning is harder than maintaining: starting a spiritual discipline (daily prayer, consistent church attendance, Bible reading, fasting, etc) requires more effort than maintaining the discipline
  • Social fun: I’ve allowed people to be involved with my exercise & it’s been very enjoyable; the parallel holds true with spiritual growth as well – we need people in our lives on this spiritual maturity journey
  • Too rigorous: last week, I got a migraine largely because I was too hard on my body; in a similar way, let’s be careful to have a balanced spiritual walk in our daily living

With these suggestions, I pray that you grow spiritually & that your inner man is strengthened with the presence of the Holy Spirit – Eph 3:16 🙂

A Good Person to Emulate

Happy Thursday to you! The world is full of interesting people & history has an abundance of individuals who are admirable. Please watch this short video to see a cool person in the Bible that can be a good role model for us today:

 

Clutter That Entangles

My husband & I were talking this morning about some of the clutter in our house. I’m nowhere close to being a perfectionist since my childhood had the steady tension between my dad with his clutter & the purges my mom would occasionally conduct. So I grew up in a spectrum between clutter & tidy.
Now as an adult, for me the problem with clutter is that it seems to have a creeping nature & before I realize it, there are piles & stacks of clutter that can be easily overlooked.
Sometimes sin is like clutter. It can creep & sneak along the edges of our thoughts & desires leaving little splotches & specks, easy to overlook. But if we allow these specks & splotches of sin to accumulate, then soon our souls become cluttered with sin & we lose of focus on Jesus.
Let’s endeavor to regularly allow the Holy Spirit to work holiness into our souls so that the clutter of sin doesn’t contaminate our affections or attention 🙂
Hebrews 12:1b, “let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

One Decision

What do you want? Are you interested in having a better education? Do you want to exercise more? Do you want a healthy marriage? Do you want a vibrant & growing relationship w God? What do you want?
Desires that we don’t achieve can become frustrating & discouraging. So it’s important to think about what we want, our end goal, in smaller steps like one decision at a time.
When we consider what we want & align that to our decisions, then we can make progress towards achieving our desires & goals. Les walk towards our goals & desires one decision at a time.

The Opposites

Conventional thinking tells us that if we:

  • work harder, we’ll go farther;
  • study more, we’ll be smarter;
  • promote ourselves, we’ll gain notoriety;
  • exercise & eat right, we’ll feel better.

To a degree, these are all true. But the ultimate fulfillment to going father, being smarter (more wise), visibility & feel good about ourselves isn’t sustained in conventional nor fleshly thinking.
Jesus tells us that the way to being fulfilled is through being committed to kingdom opposites:

  • The last will be first;
  • the way ahead is through humility & service;
  • exercise & discipline are corollaries to soul health;
  • seeking God’s kingdom first sets everything in proper alignment to live a of fulfillment & reward!

The Inside Scoop

I want to think that I’m genuine & forthright. I don’t want to think that I am either deceived or deceptive. But alas, in Jeremiah 17:9, it says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?”
So it’s important to acknowledge that we can trick ourselves into thinking & believing things that aren’t true.
When we think & believe things that are untrue, even if just slightly, we put ourselves at high risk to live in distortion & dysfunction.
The best vaccination for deception is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls the Spirit of truth. Let’s make it a platinum priority in our lives to be led into truth by the Holy Spirit – John 16:13

Sniper Focus

I’m easily distracted & that can be very challenging. There are always external distractions like the phone alerts, watching people get upset about small stuff, podcasts for listening, multiple books I want to absorb, tasks undone, etc. Then there’s also the internal distractions – feelings that can be challenging, creative ideas that could be fun, stress from impending deadlines, etc.
Thankfully, I met a new friend this morning on my way to catch a plane. She was studying Philippians 4:7-8, which talks about keeping our thoughts focused on constructive & beneficial stuff. For me, this means that I stay intentional about not getting distracted. It also means that I keep my thoughts grounded in the Bible so I don’t mindlessly roam away from God. Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit gives us sniper focus so that we live a life that hits the mark & overflows with divine purpose.

Riding the Bus

I’ve taken to riding the bus to the airport & I love it! I really appreciate that someone else does all the navigating through traffic, the seats are cushioned, the temperature is pleasant & I can do my work while I ride! When I would drive myself to the airport, I’d have to be alert, dodge traffic, find a very distant parking space, walk through the cold / heat & hopefully have enough time to get through security, etc.
it seems to me that walking with the Holy Spirit is sometimes like taking the bus to a destination. Although it requires us to trust the Holy Spirit, the journey is much more enjoyable, less stressful & we usually land a lot closer to the destination than if we navigate life all alone.
If you want to learn to walk with the Holy Spirit better, pick up my new book,

In Step

& you’ll have some new experiences in your daily living from walking with the Spirit!

X-ray Vision

“. . . . , those who previously saw him as a beggar.” John 9:8b

I read this verse today & it really stood out to me about the power of vision & how we see people. In John 9, Jesus heals a man who was born blind. Before his healing, this man sat outside the temple & begged, so everyone recognized him as, ” that beggar guy.” When he was no longer blind, the people struggled to see him as anyone but, “that beggar dude.”
This has started me to think about various people I see: Bob the homeless guy at Starbucks, Tina the blind chick, Marion the needy one, Jerry the deaf dude, . . . .
If we see people only in the quagmire of their pain, dysfunction & disability, then maybe we’re limiting God’s power to work through us.
Maybe it’s a better strategy to ask God to reveal that persons true identity & divine design so that we call out their potential & not merely their inabilities & weaknesses. I’m more than a little grateful that God calls things that are not as though they are!

The Few, the Proud, the Exclusive

Being part of an elite group can be very attractive. The sense of belonging, being special & set apart appeals to our emotions & sense of significance. Sometimes there can seem to be some good reasons for being exclusive: excellence, comraderie, influence, achieving high goals, etc).

A problem, however, with being exclusive is that it becomes easy to allow the status of the group to influence the way we see ourselves. Sometimes we can think that being part of an exclusive group makes us elite or a cut above “other people.”
Another problem with being exclusive (religious, social, economic, fashion, athletic, etc) is that we can often remove ourselves from connecting with others who are not as elite, don’t achieve as highly, don’t dress in the same fashion, don’t had the same income bracket, aren’t as athletic, or don’t have a similar mental prowess.

The biggest problem with being exclusive is that such a mindset runs entirely contrary to how Jesus taught us to live. In John 13:14-15, Jesus models for us a servant mindset, ready to wash feet & lay down His life for others for the simple & revolutionary goal to express genuine love. Let’s always keep our sites on the end goal to love with a genuine heart & sincere expression!

Coaching the Mental Game

We frequently think of the mental game in athletic terms – mental toughness, endurance, winning and the likes. If you watch a highly successful athlete before their game / competition, they’re often 100% dialed into the event before them. Sometimes, an athlete will even mentally go through the routine, for physically practicing what they will do for the event.
There’s a lot to be said for this mindset in our daily living. But the essential requirement for coaching our mental game is to have the right Coach. Bad coaching equals bad execution & outcomes. So who is your mental coach?
Let’s actively decide & allow the Holy Spirit to be our mental coach, setting our minds on the Holy Spirit & not stuff that would poison, distract or compromise our outcomes!

The Aquaman

This weekend, I learned about some swimming races near my house at the local reservoir. I learned about these “Aquaman” races from a nice lady after I attempted to do an open water swim at a pond near the mountains here in Denver. My swimming was very disappointing to me & when I got out of the pond, I didn’t feel friendly whatsoever. Nevertheless, I started chatting with the lady nearby & she was very kind & informative. We had a lovely conversation & she helped me know of some open water swimming options that sound really fun!
I say this to encourage you about those moments when you’re struggling or discouraged. Remember that God can encourage & strengthen you in a variety of ways that are often unexpected. Be careful if you’re discouraged not to turn inward so much that you don’t allow God to help or strengthen you with creative ideas & unexpected encouragement!

The Confidence Factor

I’m presently riding with my teenage son who is clocking in driving time so that he can be eligible to get his driver’s license. It’s an interesting experience to watch his confidence or lack of confidence, wax or wane, depending on who’s in the car, his experience, the quantity of traffic & his mind frame. And this confidence thing seems to ring true for all of us.
So here are some things to help with the confidence factor:

  • Being confident in our abilities is never as safe as being confident in God’s wisdom & power.
  • Don’t allow fear & past failures contaminate your confidence
  • Think in terms of what could go right rather than what could go wrong
  • Do it scared – Joyce Meyer

Bigger, Better, More

There’s a common mindset that says bigger, more & better should be the continual pursuit. I say this now because I’m in a camera shop waiting to get some technical help & noticing the spectrum of cameras available in each brand. There are the simple point & shoot kind all the way to the ones that can tie your shoes & microwave popcorn. Ok, not really but kind of.
I wonder if the enemy of our souls doesn’t send us down this rabbit trail to distract us from learning the secret of being content in any & every situation. In the same line of thinking, is Jesus enough for us or do our decisions, time & money say something different?
I’m not buying a better camera today, nor do I want to swallow the deception that more & better need to control my life 🙂

Did God Say?

This question is massively significant for us everyday. I say that because it was the starter question the serpent asked Eve in the Garden of Eden & it was the beginning of original sin.
So do we know what God’s Word says? Eve kind of knew, but she’s wasn’t totally clear & confident with her reply to this question & I think that’s when the enemy gets a toehold with us.
Sometimes we kind of know God’s Word, but if we’re super honest, it would be very helpful to know God’s Word better 🙂
Here are some questions to consider:
Do you ever struggle to know what God says?
Do you ever struggle to believe what God says?
Do you ever struggle to do what God says?

I think it’s really important to ask ourselves this question, “Did God say . . . ?” and apply it to our thoughts, emotions, actions, conversations. When we make God’s Word an essential priority, this will help us stay away from the enemy’s deceptions, whispers & questions!

4 steps: toxic thinking

Do you ever think about your thoughts?  Or the motivations for things that you do?  It seems to me that the thought processes, feelings, motivations and our internal mindsets have massive affects on our choices, conversations, attitudes and actions.  So if our thinking or emotions have been poisoned by the enemy (who comes to steal, kill & destroy), then it makes sense that the behaviors, conversations etc can be dysfunctional & corrupt.

Here’s a good example:  have you met people who have a chip on their shoulder, or think that nobody likes them or maybe they’ve been victimized & carry that mindset throughout their daily living?  There’s probably good reasons behind why they behave the way that they do.  But let’s remember this truth:  we have a free will to make different choices.

So here are a few things for consideration:

  1. Take a pause & reflect:  why am I doing / saying this?
  2. Is my behavior / conversation / attitude coming from a place of brokenness or distortion?
  3. Welcome the Holy Spirit into the places where you sense such brokenness & distortion / deception
  4. Let the Holy Spirit help you make different choices – Romans 8:26 🙂